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posted by janrinok on Tuesday September 08 2015, @11:08PM   Printer-friendly
from the when-the-system-doesn't-work dept.

Iron Speed, a firm which provided a rapid application development tool for creating .NET apps, is shuttering itself thanks to "litigation with a patent troll", according to a letter sent to customers by co-founder and chairman Alan Fisher.

The Iron Speed designer enabled developers to create applications for web, cloud and mobile using a point-and-click interface. Customers include AT&T, Cisco, DHL, Disney, HP and the US Army, according to the company's website. Yet all this is no more, writes Fisher:

There are several reasons for this, one of which has been the ongoing expense of litigation with a patent troll who has challenged our intellectual property. While we feel this is baseless, patent litigation is generally a multi-million dollar exercise. This has put a drain on our resources we can no longer afford, and coupled with excessive cracked key use and license sharing, our product sales have been severely impaired.

We will continue offering Technical Support through December 31 2015, but it is unlikely that there will be future software releases.

Because we are unable to issue any refunds, any customer with current software update or technical support subscriptions has been issued an additional perpetual license in his account.

A thread on the Iron Speed forums confirms the situation and provides more details.

The patent issue seems related to the way the Iron Speed designer generates applications automatically based on a database schema, removing much of the gruntwork in building applications that are essentially forms over data.

Microsoft has its own tool which does this, called LightSwitch, but this has not been updated much in the latest edition of Visual Studio, causing developers to doubt its future. Another issue with LightSwitch is its reliance on the deprecated Silverlight for desktop applications, though it can also generate HTML and JavaScript.


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  • (Score: 2) by Grishnakh on Wednesday September 09 2015, @01:53AM

    by Grishnakh (2831) on Wednesday September 09 2015, @01:53AM (#234034)

    BS; they absolutely own the rights to the code. You can write code that implements any kind of clearly and uncontestedly patented algorithm, and that code is *yours* (you own the copyright). However, if you try to sell the code, you have to pay license fees to the patent holder.

    Patents and copyrights are two different things.

    This company can absolutely open-source their code if they choose, just like LAME's source code has been available for ages. People using that code have to pay a license fee to be legal, however (just like, prior to the expiration of the MP3 patents, LAME users needed to pay a license fee to compile and use the code). Good luck going after the users for license fees though. Open-sourcing the code is exactly what this company should do after they shut down, just to stick it to the patent troll.

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  • (Score: 2) by Nerdfest on Wednesday September 09 2015, @02:01AM

    by Nerdfest (80) on Wednesday September 09 2015, @02:01AM (#234039)

    I was under the impression that you weren't allowed to create your own implementation of something that was patented, even for personal use. I could be wrong of course.

    • (Score: 2) by hemocyanin on Wednesday September 09 2015, @02:35AM

      by hemocyanin (186) on Wednesday September 09 2015, @02:35AM (#234047) Journal

      My understanding comports with yours from a strictly legal perspective: it is illegal to make something for personal use that is patented by another.

      From a strictly practical perspective, it is generally not cost effective for a company/troll/whatever to go after the individual person who makes something just for personal use and never even attempts to sell it. In that scenario, the infringer is very unlikely to experience negative consequences for a patent violation.

    • (Score: 2) by frojack on Wednesday September 09 2015, @04:47AM

      by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday September 09 2015, @04:47AM (#234085) Journal

      I was under the impression that you weren't allowed to create your own implementation of something that was patented, even for personal use. I could be wrong of course.

      You probably can't make your own copy of a patented device.

      However, software patents are all business practices patents in the US, and the matter being contested only covers one small part of the process:

      The patent issue seems related to the way the Iron Speed designer generates applications automatically based on a database schema, removing much of the gruntwork in building applications that are essentially forms over data.

      But that is a common functionality as others have pointed out. If you have to collect data to fill in your database, its not all that uncommon to generate the application to do so from the database itself. Hell, even Google Docs offers a fill in the form capability that operates on any spreadsheet you have. This is a generic abstract idea, and shouldn't be patentable.

      In this day and age, that kind of patent has been pretty much struck down. See Alice vs CLS Bank [wikipedia.org].

      This company's problem is 1) that everyone is pirating their software, 2) They are selling into a dieing market (.net) and 3) there were already players in that field. They can't afford to fight that fight.

      Because its a Windows based technology, nobody is going to rush to their defense, and Opensource licenses aren't the norm in the windows world.

      --
      No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.